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Responding to Business Needs for Short-Term Assignments
By Sherman Pereira
Crown Relocations, Regional Director
Central and Eastern Europe

Sherman Periera

n a recent survey of 154 multinational corporations, 68% said that they expect to ramp up short-term assignments. This trend has continued to increase in line with the slowed economy.

While there is still global optimism from the growing markets such as Eastern Europe, China, India, Brazil, etc., fi nding suitable candidates for assignments is still a challenge for many companies. Global mobility professionals need to ensure that their employees complete their assignments and maintain employee retention rates.

How, when money is tight?

In addition to short-term assignments, mobility professionals are applying a host of cost-saving strategies e.g., reducing policy offerings and fi nancial incentives for some of their employees. Another strategy is to identify younger talent within the organization, which is a growing trend in the industry. Assignees are younger than in previous years. In fact, half of them are 20-39 years of age and being younger, many of them are single (and are likely to require fewer or lowercost destination services). Young professionals view international assignments as a necessary step in their career development and many are enthusiastic about an opportunity for an overseas assignment.

Is it truly a short-term assignment?

While most companies define “shortterm” as being between one month and one year, they can sometimes, unintentionally, become long-term, which adds to the cost of the assignment, as well as the administrative burden. To avoid this unplanned long-term assignment, it is very important that the assignment’s expected outcomes are defined very clearly, with a documented time-line that details the expected tasks and states the completion dates of the assignment.

Short-term assignments are cost-effective alternatives because they are typically designed for the employee only and the family stays behind. There’s also less of a need for inter-cultural training, both of which help realize cost savings for the organization. It is approached more as an extended business trip than a typical relocation and is highly focused on a particular project and driven by a specific business need, with a definite objective and completion date.

What other cost saving strategies are being implemented?

Extending temporary housing allotments

Creating roommate situations

Providing “occupied” property management

Exploring long distance commuting

Offering flexible hours/days

Streamlining expense management, e.g. integrating with payroll, allowing scanned receipt submission

Change is inevitable and organizations will always find sound business reasons to send work or workers away. But how an organization survives and even thrives in a time of turmoil will depnd on the culture they have built along the way.

The key to the success of any policy is quite simply, “Communication!” Verbal, written, through technology and most importantly through line management’s commitment to consistency, all help employees to understand their benefits package and help improve morale.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the readers for your questions which I have received over the past few months and will endeavor to get some of these published in the New Year. In addition I would like to wish all Passport Readers Seasonal Greetings and a Happy and Prosperous 2010.

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